When Emil Zangerl, 58, from See, is not working in the offices of the Tyrolean police force, he’s on stage. Acting is his calling and he’s performed regularly in the theatre in See for the past 29 years. He speaks to Trisanna about stage fright – and why the people of Paznaun prefer comedies to dramas.
Emil, you’ve spent half of your life in the theatre, does any experience in particular stand out?
Yes, it was the 25th anniversary of the Heimatbühne theatre group. We were performing the play “Sebastiani, a Paznaun drama.” We rehearsed for weeks, the performance was very emotional and then directly after the premiere, our theatrical director, Alfred Tschallener, explained that he’d written the play himself. None of us knew that beforehand, not even me. We were all very touched.

Why did he only tell everyone after the first performance?
The idea was for us to act as unselfconsciously as possible, and not feel that we needed to meet his expectations with regard to the play, just because he’s the author.
Are plays from Paznaun like that one particularly well-received by your audience?
It’s true that you get a better reception for a play with which the audience can identify. But it doesn’t have to be related to the town. I think theatre moves people in general. In terms of genre, I think the audiences prefer comedies.
Why’s that?
Most people want to be entertained, they want to laugh, not cry. Life brings enough drama of its own anyway. When we performed a serious piece, people sometimes came up to me and asked me if we could do something funny the next time.
Do you have to take into account audience requests like that when you’re choosing a play?
We do it, but not just because of good critiques, no – in the theatre you can feel the emotion of the audience on the stage. For me, a play does not just consist of the performers. The audience is just as much a part of it. To a certain extent, they act it, too. You also perform the classics, like your current play, “Thomas auf der Himmelsleiter” or “Don Camillo and Peppone.” Do you translate them into the Paznaun dialect?
Yes, we speak dialect, and on the stage, too. Most of the audience come from the local region, after all. But at the same time, we try not to use terms which are only used in Paznaun. Tourists sometimes come along, too.

The See Theatre performs “Thomas auf der Himmelsleiter” weekly in the Trisanna-See-Saal in the See community centre. Every Thursday at 20.30, with an additional performance on Sundays some weeks. You can see details of all the dates here. Tickets are available at the box office and cost ten euros.